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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vampires, Boat Shoes, and YACHTs

posted by on March 27 at 16:19 PM

vampire-cat-will-suck-your-blood.jpgYou would not believe how “sexy” the Google Image search results are for “Vampire”

Vampire Weekend, YACHT @ Neumo’s

“It’s sold-out, but you’re here. You made it!” So said Jona Bechtolt of YACHT, between songs, towards the end their opening set, trying one more time to rouse the politely inert capacity crowd. At first, I though YACHT was a weird choice to open for Vampire Weekend (obvious boat shoes jokes aside), just as I though Bechtolt was a weird choice to open for Architcture in Helsinki on their last tour, although, they were at least bound by a remix. But it occured to me, watching Bechtolt and collaborator/girlfriend Claire Evans (who recorded vocals on I Believe in You Your Magic is Real but hasn’t been a regular part of YACHT’s live show), that a band couldn’t hope for a better warm-up act. YACHT are cheerleaders extraordinaire—energetic, kinetic, effusively positive and extroverted. If they can’t stir your crowd, god help you.

They began with a (new?) song whose chorus declared, “You can live anywhere you want” over a litany of possible places—the forest, small towns, etc—and a more organic, psychedelic thump than YACHT’s usual sharp electro. Another unfamiliar song found Bechtolt advising, “Protect your eyes! / Watch the downloading / Protect your eyes! / read the comments”—a blogger’s delight. For “The Magic Beat,” Evans and possibly Bechtolt made their way down into the crowd during the anthemically self-satisfied call-and-response of “How do you like it? / How do you like it? / I like it / it’s my shit.” Every song was punctuated with the sampled sound of shattering glass, like Clipse’s gunshot sounds. It occurs to me, too, that perhaps YACHT make sense opening for Vampire Weekend because they pull off something like what L’Homme Run never quite did. A friend and I talk about whether YACHT is sincere or ironic (admittedly, not a black or white issue), settling on the idea that their songs are sincere but their dancing and delivery are a little sarcastic. Whatever, their set was sincerely great, another fine counterpoint to this little rant.

But the crowd didn’t really light up until the young men of Vampire Weekend took the stage, eliciting massive cheers and one lone shout of “Charles in Charge!” Vampire Weekend, whatever the cultural baggage attached to them, really put on a great show. The rhythm section looks and sounds like they’re having a blast, bass lines bouncing like a car tires on a bumpy dirt road, drums switching from loose punk pogo to lopsided polyrhythms with easy velocity. Singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig can barely keep his mouth to the mic, jumping and strumming and skipping as he is, but he lands every line, smiling. Keyboardist and occasional guitarist Rostam Batmanglij tickles out little circular melodies and classical scales, his weighty contributions more obvious here than on record, lending the songs much of their liveliness (still, a friend observes that one song really would benefit from live strings). They all look like the kind of perfectly nice boys that your mom would be happy to see you bring home. They wear polos and sweaters and maybe boat shows (maybe just Keds), although the sweaters come off as the set heats up. They play a newer, unreleased song “for Seattle,” since we and KEXP (“obviously a great radio station”) have been so supportive since their last time in town at the Crocodile. Koenig talks about how “every song has a vibe, and most of them come from the West Coast,” which is kind if a little baffling. He introduces “A-Punk” as being their “kind of ‘Twist’-y” song. They play “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and most (all?) of their album. Everything sounds pretty much perfect.

About that aforementioned cultural baggage—it’s not just something that’s been foisted on the band. Vampire Weekend are no dummies (maybe you’ve heard, they went to college), and their songs deal internally with all the heady subjects and exciting contradictions that get the critics so worked up. Yes, their music references Graceland and the Police and “Here Comes My Baby” and afro-pop traditions already parsed by more learned critics than I—and their lyrics reference Peter Gabriel and Reggaeton and Kafiyas (quite a bit of their lyrics seem to be concerned with attire, in fact); they know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re doing it well.

Backstage with the band is a whole ‘nother thing: No groupies or smoking or drugs, just late-night, buzzing, dorm room-style debate, much of it pitting Charles Mudede against Koenig and Batmanglij, eventually devolving into 9/11 conspiracy talk and Mudede shouting, “Don’t fuck with me!” It was delightful; I just hope the Stranger didn’t make a terrible impression, because their album’s quite a hit around the office.

RSS icon Comments

1

perfect performance from v.w. imhhhhhho

Posted by ndrwmtsn | March 27, 2008 4:29 PM
2

If you want to hear the show again, you know where to go.

Posted by Brian | March 27, 2008 6:11 PM

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